Peruse The Farmer's Market Like L.A.'s Top Chefs
For most people, the most disappointing part of farmer‚Äôs markets is realizing that they can‚Äôt afford to buy the $15 crates of organic raspberries, but for these L.A. chefs, the bigger concern is actually being cut off.
‚ÄúWhen your restaurant‚Äôs big, you go to a peach farm and‚Ä¶you have to fight to buy everything they have‚Ä¶and even then you need to supplement it a bit,‚ÄĚ said Roxana Jullapat, the pasty chef and co-owner of Cook‚Äôs County.
At The Taste‚Äôs Saturday Field-to-Fork event, Jullapat sat in the company of Jessica Koslow, Vincenzo Marianella, Josiah Citrin and Russ Parsons to share their trade secrets about how L.A.‚Äôs top chefs work to score the freshest produce.
Known for her canned preserves, Koslow, the founder of Sqirl, can go through as many hundreds of pounds of berries and stone fruits as the farmers will sell her, so getting cut off by farmers is a regular thing for her.
‚ÄúThe farms open at 8, so we show up at 7:45 and try to get the farmers to give us all they have,‚ÄĚ said Koslow. But the drought has made it even harder to secure the top produce that chefs throughout L.A. are all trying to get their hands on, she explained.
When it comes to secreting the best produce, building relationships is crucial. Jullapat and Koslow both acknowledged the importance of befriending other fruit-seeking-chefs‚ÄĒlike Sherry Yard of Spago fame‚ÄĒas well as the farmers themselves.
‚ÄúThe farmers get to know your tastes which is such a treat,‚ÄĚ said Jullapat. ‚ÄúBut sometimes they‚Äôll say ‚Äėhere, here‚Äôs the variety you like,‚Äô and sometimes you‚Äôll just have to go ‚Äėehhhhhh‚Ä¶‚Äô‚ÄĚ
SEE ALSO: Russ Parsons Talks ‚ÄėFlavors Of L.A.‚Äô
It‚Äôs the fear of the ‚Äúehhhhhh‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ that keeps Melisse chef Josiah Citrin from pre-ordering his produce, an increasingly common practice by many restaurant chefs.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt order because we need to taste it,‚ÄĚ said Citrin. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs why we have five people going to the market. And otherwise you miss special things that the farmers pop up.‚ÄĚ
Even late sleepers like Marianella, the head barman at Copa d‚ÄôOro often choose to take their chances with farmer‚Äôs market perusal among the masses.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt have any favorite [farmers] because I just go by look and smell and touch,‚ÄĚ said Marianella‚ÄĒeven if ‚Äúby the time I get there, they don‚Äôt even want to deal with me, they just want to go home.‚ÄĚ
When it comes to fine dining‚ÄĒand drinking‚ÄĒthe chefs all agreed that the quality of the ingredients makes all the difference.